How to submit complaints?
Attention to complaints and the resulting potential conflicts in a certification scheme is an important base for the scheme’s reliability, continuous improvement mechanism, and transparency to its users and stakeholders. Conflict management should always be executed as close to the source of conflict as possible and with participation of the parties involved in, and affected by, the conflict. Our detailed complaint procedure is described in chapter 11 of the SSAP RED Scheme Governance and details on protecting those who submit a complaint can be found in the Procedure dealing with reporting suspected wrongdoing or irregularity, 'whistleblower procedure'. A summary of the process can be found here, and at the end the complaint form for submitting complaints can be found:
Principles that SES applies for the conflict resolution
SES will apply the following principles for processing a complaint:
- SES will encourage parties to resolve the conflict between themselves first
- Encourage parties to resolve conflicts in a timely manner
- Gather the underlying facts from the parties involved
- Be as transparent in the decision-making process as possible given the sensitive information involved
- Maintain formal records of the complaints
- Ensure an appeal process is in place
- Act in the best interest of the integrity of the scheme, undertaking decisions in an unbiased and impartial manner.
- If a Board member has a conflict of interest, he or she will be excluded from the decision-making process.
Admission of complaints
Complaints and appeals will only be filed with SES when they meet the following criteria:
- The reason for the complaint or appeal is a substantial and non-negligible risk of non-compliance of an SSAP/RED system user or recognised CB, or which addresses gaps in the effectiveness of the SSAP Protocol and/or governance, with clear reference to the parties or documents involved.
- The text of the complaint or appeal is addressed to the SES Secretary.
A detailed description of the complaints procedure, its scope and evidencing requirements, the handling and appeal process, as well as provision of relevant third-party information, is displayed on https://ssap-red.org/. An internal manual will formally set forth the entire complaints procedure, its mechanics, and appeal possibility, as well as the internal SES responsibilities.
Complaints submission and processing
Complaints and appeals need to be submitted in writing in the English language to [email protected] or by completing the below online form addressed to the SES Secretary.
Complaints and appeals must contain the following information:
- The name of the organisation, contact person, and title/position
- Additional contact information, including the email address, phone number, and mailing address
- Information that shows the legitimacy of the organisation
- Name of the organisation and/or the individual against which the complaint is raised
- Explanation regarding the breach in question
- Documented evidence to substantiate the submitted claim and providing contextual information on the rationale in such a way that a third party can obtain a clear idea and form a judgement on the situation
- Additional documentation or correspondence evidencing the complaint about the organisation in question has been previously addressed
- A proposed solution to resolve the conflict.
Summary of the Complaints follow-up process
- When complaints have met above criteria, the Secretary will conduct further review of the presented documentary evidence and hearing all parties involved: the party submitting the complaint, and the counter-party, the party/parties causing, or which might have been affected by, the complaint.
- A proposed board decision will be presented to all involved parties
- Once the proposed decision has been accepted, or amended and accepted by the Board, the Secretary will communicate the decision to both the issuer of the complaint as well as to the counter-party.
- If required, the decision could cause corrective actions to be required by the counterparty. Alternatively, the decision could also require:
- To inform the CB to specifically check the topic in question in the upcoming recertification audit, or
- to perform an extra onsite surveillance audit to assure the integrity of the SSAP/RED system, or in severe cases, to suspend the scope certificate of the counterpart.
- In case the CB comes to the conclusion that the complaint leads to a non-conformity (‘NC’) the system user has to remedy the NC within the required time frame. In case the system user does not remedy the NC timely the certificate will be withdrawn.
- If the counter-party does not consent to the decision of the Board, the counter-party can submit a counterproposal within a period of 10 working days upon receiving the decision.
- Upon acceptance of the counterproposal, the Secretary will assess its legitimacy, very specifically focusing on the newly-introduced aspects, and perform an assessment. The Secretary can either decline the counterproposal, accept the counterproposal, or propose a new decision.
- The decision will be presented to the CEO who will present the decision to the Board. The Board will make a decision following the same procedure and quorum requirements as stipulated above. This decision and any corrective actions will be communicated to the involved parties and can be subject to an appeal. The Secretary will act within a period of 10 working days from acceptance of the counterproposal until the communication of the decision.
The decision from the Board can be appealed by both parties, the issuer of the complaint and the counter-party.
- The appeal is to be submitted within 20 working days from the decision and must substantiate the reasons for the appeal. The appeal will be grounded on either information that was already previously available, or on newly-introduced facts.
- The appeal will be presented to the Secretary who will inform the CEO. The CEO will convene a panel within a period of 25 working days with all Board members and three members of the Advisory Committee and inform the appealing parties of the meeting.
- The convened panel will make a decision which will be communicated directly after meeting. Written communication can follow within five days after the meeting.